Latin American filmmakers are riding on Cloud 9 this week. Guillermo del Toro just won two Academy Awards for directing and producing The Shape of Water, marking the fourth time in the last five years that the Best Director statue was awarded to a Mexican-born filmmaker. Hopefully, the trend continues in 2018 and extends across all film industry events.
At the South by Southwest Film Festival, Latin American directors are being represented fairly well and looking to be recognized during the fest March 9-17. Films from countries like Nicaragua, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia are making their world and U.S. premieres across a variety of genres, including documentary, comedy, animation and drama.
Work, however, still needs to be done for U.S.-born Latino filmmakers, especially in a week where we saw the deadline to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program come and go. It’s important now more than ever to show people that Latino voices in the U.S. are a vital part of the American fabric—whether it’s in the business sector, media field or entertainment industry.
Demanding more inclusion at film festivals like SXSW is one way U.S. Latinos can push for change and put more pressure on the Hollywood system to make some inherent shifts in the way talent is hired and projects are greenlit.
If you’re in Austin, Texas, for SXSW, remember to give some love to those Latino filmmakers who are fighting for a place at the table. Below are a handful of films to get you started. We chose to include movies by Latino and non-Latino directors, but always focusing on Latino stories.
SXSW Film Festival runs March 9–17, 2018.
Imagine being a part of a sports club during a tragic accident that sees most of your teammates killed in a deadly airplane crash. This is the situation the Brazilian Chapesoense football team finds itself in when it loses all but three of its players in a serious accident on November 28, 2016. Hoping to show how an entire city handles immense tragedy, directors point their cameras on the families of the deceased, the three men who survived the crash and new members who have stepped in to fill the roster spots on the team. Should the new team move on or are the memories connected to their deceased teammates too significant to put by the wayside? (
2 – Ruben Blades Is Not My Name
Director Abner Benaim – Country Panama, Colombia, Argentina – Production Year 2018
Considered by many as the first musician to bring salsa music to an international audience, Panamanian singer, songwriter, and actor Ruben Blades is highlighted in a documentary that spans his 50-year career and gives audiences an in-depth look at his musical and political aspirations (does he really want to run for president of Panama?) and attempts to help Blades decide what the term legacy actually means. Blades has won 17 Grammys, earned a law degree from Harvard University and has starred in such films as the 1988 comedy drama The Milagro Beanfield War, 2000’s drama All the Pretty Horses and 2016’s biopic Hands of Stone. He currently stars in TV’s Fear the Walking Dead.
3- Agave: The Spirit of a Nation
Director Nicholas Kovacic, Matthew Riggieri – Country Mexico, United States – Production Year 2018
4 – Virus Tropical
Director Santiago Caicedo – Country Colombia – Production Year 2017
Director T.G Herrington, Danny Clinch – Country Cuba, United States – Production Year 2017
Take a tour through Cuba with filmmakers T.G Herrington and Danny Clinch as they uncover the musical roots of Ben Jaffe, a New Orleans jazz band leader and tuba player and attempt to discover how he is connected the country’s indigenous music, which gave birth to the music he now knows and loves. The trip came after President Obama lifted restrictions on the communist country, which included travel. Making their way through Cuba, the crew meets up with iconic musicians. According to Jaffe, the trip inspired him so much, he and his New Orleans jazz group recorded a new album based on their experience.
6 – Teatro de guerra
Director Lola Arias – Country Germany, Spain, Argentina – Production Year 2018
Six veterans from the Falklands War, a war that lasted 74 days in 1982, reunite to tell their stories, reminisce about old memories and make a film about their experience fighting in a battle that saw more than 900 British and Argentinian soldiers die. In the experimental documentary, three British and three Argentine vets come together to reenact stylized battle scenes from the war from inside an abandoned building and to think about the repercussions that are felt by the men 35 years later and the cultural impact it left on both countries, which includes a number of film and television productions.
7 – Las Sandinistas
Director Jenny Murray – Country Nicaragua, United States – Production Year 2018
After stepping into battle during the 1979 Sandinistas Revolution in Nicaragua and leading combat and social reform to reshape their country, a group of female rebel troops returns to their home country almost 40 years later to help transform their society’s idea of feminism and to face gender violence and their own government head on. Through these untold true stories, director Jenny Murry explores the work of the democratic socialist political party and how they were able to seize power over the Somoza dynasty and expose their revolutionary government’s suppression of women’s rights. With a strong voice, these women refuse for their history to be forgotten.
8 – Neurotic Quest for Serenity
Director Paulinho Caruso, Teodoro Poppovic – Country Brazil – Production Year 2017